Released: 5th July
Seen: 5th July
Here’s the story, a hardened cop who works with the FBI is on a case that requires them to keep their cool. During a mission, a major screw up by the cop causes a major catastrophe to happen and so they need to go undercover as a beauty pageant in order to save the day and while doing so, maybe the hardened agent will learn that beauty pageant queens aren’t just about being pretty. I know, sounds like a good movie right? It should, because that’s the basic plot of Miss Congeniality, one of the best films of the year 2000 and a film that’s so beloved that every April 25th we all post that scene where a contestant is asked about their perfect date. It’s one of Sandra Bullock’s best movies… and it’s what was shamelessly ripped off in the creation of this film.
Show Dogs is a film about Max (Played by Ludacris), a police dog with an attitude problem who teams up with Frank (Played by Will Arnett), his human partner who has to stop an animal smuggling scheme that’s taking place at a dog show. Apparently, that’s all they do, this is just a specific unit dedicated to dog crimes… oh, did I say unit? I mean the entire FBI/Police Force only handles crimes that involve animals, which is spelled out in an early sequence that’s so mind-numbingly boring that it fits in perfectly with every other mind-numbingly boring sequence in this film. The writers of the film clearly didn’t care, which is shocking because you’d think with roughly 14 writers that one of them might actually try and make a story that’s worth telling… then again, this is a team of writers who thought the line “I’m good alright, good at taking a bite out of crime” was a piece of dialogue that was worthy of being put on paper as part of an actual script.
The movie is full to the brim with cheesy and unfunny dialogue like that, it’s a film that’s written with either bad puns about dog things OR references to much better things. A basic rule of making a movie, do not mention a better movie in your bad movie and this movie namedrops Turner and Hooch multiple times. This film WISHES it was anywhere near as good as Turner and Hooch. Turner and Hooch was at least memorable and had decent dialogue. Show Dogs has neither of those things, what it does have is a bizarre belief that “Reference” is the same thing as “Joke”. Just making a Lego Batman reference while you’re talking to Will Arnett is not a joke. Just having RuPaul turn up to spout RuPaul quotes is not a joke. Just having Ludacris’ character be into hip hop is not a joke. I should not need to tell professional writers this but, apparently, I need to tell them this.
I also need to tell the CGI artists to stop because oh my god the CGI in this film is just bad. By this point, doing lip motions on an animal is old hat, if there is a movie with talking animals then chances are that they’ve just used real dogs and animated their mouths to move and it’s done here too, but it somehow looks worse than it did back in 2001 when Cats & Dogs came out. It’s not helped by having several major animal characters as CGI creations, so sometimes a real dog will be sharing the screen with a CGI panda and it’s shockingly obvious which one is real and which one’s fake. If all the animals were CGI it might actually look better because then it’s a stylistic choice and allows for some form of consistency but when some are more obviously animated than others, it’s a bit of a distraction. There are times when they do try and CGI the dogs for specific gags and effects, and it’s possibly the most horrifying thing I’ve seen all year.
It stuns me how much they tried to get past the adults into a childrens movie. This film already has a little notoriety due to a scene that some claimed to be normalizing child grooming, a scene that got cut by the time it landed in my local cinema… they cut that scene, but we’re going to keep the scene with the obvious junkie dog who is selling info for a hit of ‘Catnip’? There’s a ton of ‘jokes’ that are clearly meant to be aimed towards the adults who are dragged along by their children who don’t know any better. Jokes about grabbing balls and waxing and drugs and all kinds of things, and it’s absolutely fine to work those kinds of jokes into a kids movie just so the adults can have a laugh too… but, those jokes should be goddamn funny and none of the ‘jokes’ in this film get anything above a small smile of recognition because I understood the reference they just made.
The worst part is how much this film wastes it’s cast. Did Will Arnett lose a bet? Does he owe the IRS? Did the director help him move a couch? Why would he be doing this? It makes no sense but to his credit, he’s not phoning it in. He’s actually trying to make this character work. He’s failing because there’s no character to make work, but he’s trying. Same with Natasha Lyonne, who is way too damn good for this film and could’ve easily treated this like it was a school play but goddamn it, she actually made her character likable. Even Ludacris, who is only given the job of providing the voice to Max, seems like he’s trying to make something out of this. Every actor is actually trying, they’re actually putting in an effort to create performances that could be funny or interesting or heartwarming but they are let down by the atrocious script and poor visuals that the movie seems to think is in any way acceptable.
This movie is in that sweet spot of too boring to be good, too competent to be bad and too mundane to be memorable. It’s the kind of film that would’ve gone straight to DVD about 15 years ago, which is roughly when it might’ve actually looked good in comparison to the other movies that were coming out around that time. Honestly, the fact that it is so completely bland and flavourless might actually make it worse than A Dog’s Purpose for me. Sure, A Dog’s Purpose might’ve been my most hated film of 2017, but at least I remember it. It was awful, but it at least there was some substance there. This is just bland and boring, impossible to take offence at but impossible to enjoy.